In an unprecedented step, Los Angeles became the first city to outlaw the use of bullhooks by elephant trainers in traveling circuses, according to the Los Angeles Times. The City Council voted to give circuses three years to change their practices or remove elephants from their shows altogether.
Bullhooks are sharp-tipped tools that critics say inflicts pain. Other tools such as ax handles, pitchforks and baseball bats were also banned.
In a statement for the LA Times, PETA spokeswoman Julia Gallucchi said, “This is a huge win for elephants.”
During the deliberations at City Hall, evidence from L.A. Animal Services and PETA were taken into account. Last July, the former visited the Ringing Bros. while it was performing at Staples Center and found no violations or signs of abuse. However, in the PETA video, played by Councilman Paul Koretz, an elephant was hogtied in a pen for training purposes and another was crying from distress.
Feld Entertainment Inc., which owns Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, defends its practices and calls the bullhooks “elephant tools.” This year alone, 90,000 LA residents attended a Ringling Bros. performance, the company says.
The three-year grace period was put into effect in order to accommodate Councilman Gil Cedillo’s “friendly amendment,” according to the Daily News. The councilman claims that it would preserve the jobs of local workers at Staples Center who assist the circus when it makes stops in town.
Though some of the activists who showed up to the hearing were upset, yelling “Three more years of torture!” actress Lily Tomlin, an activist herself, tried to reassure them.
“We’d like it to be stopped this hour,” she said, according to the LA Times. “But it can’t be and it’s going to be done this way. We’re grateful for any kind of movement at all.”
What do you think? Will this ban affect the tens of thousands who go to the circus each year?